Short, simple nature names are having a moment.
Bay falls somewhere in between. It’s a water name, to be sure, fitting in with choices like Ocean and Sea. But Bay is also a stylish sound, heard in many a popular surname name.
In 2011, ABC Family’s series Switched at Birth debuted. It’s the story of two families who discover that their daughters are not their biological children. A hospital mistake sent the newborns home with the wrong mothers. The series is notable for its use of ASL – American Sign Language – as one of the switched daughters is deaf.
The third season will premiere this month, and so I found myself thinking: are there any formal name possibilities? Does it work better for a boy or a girl? Turns out there are plenty of options.
Getting to Bay: Popular Choices
Bacon is great, but a non-starter as a baby name. And you could get to Bay from starts-with-Ba choices like Barrett. But there are plenty of other options already in the US Top 1000.
Bailey – Party of Five made Bailey a staple for boys, but this surname name has a longer history of use for girls. Today, it ranks #79 for Team Pink, with variant spellings Baylee, Bailee and Bayleigh also charting. It’s relatively rare for boys nowadays, but could still wear well on a son.
Baylen – Strictly speaking, this name isn’t in the Top 1000, much less the most popular names in the US. But it fits with the mix-and-match style of names – Jaylon and Kayden and so on. No one would be surprised to meet a Bailyn in 2014, though the most popular B variations add an -r – think of Brayden.
Getting to Bay: Surname Names
Baker – As occupational surnames goes, Baker is pretty sweet. With that great -r ending and the vibrant long a sound, Baker feels as wearable as Smith or Jones – and about as uncommon. Despite the rise of Hunter and Carter, Baker remains pretty rare.
Bayard – It’s the name of a magical horse in Old French legends, and the color of his coat – baie, or reddish-brown. It’s been in use as a surname and place name over the centuries, and as a given name, it has potential.
Baylor – The Texas university is named for its founder’s surname. It also feels like a smoosh of Bailey and Taylor. As institutions of higher learning go, it certainly makes for a wearable choice.
Getting to Bay: Other Options
Baden – The German spa town Baden Baden is pronounced more like cotton, making this an unlikely candidate for a formal name for Bay. Except that I think the long a pronunciation is more intuitive in English. You could add an -i or a -y to make the pronunciation clear. Or is this one more like Baylon and company?
Bae – I was so very excited to stumble on this one, a Korean name. Except it appears to be a surname. And the ae sounds like the a in bat. That should take Bae off this list, but let’s imagine you’re after a culture-spanning name. Would Bae work? I’m not sure, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
Barbara – Is this saintly classic due for a comeback yet? Maybe not. But nickname options abound, from Barbie and Babs to – why not? – Bay.
Bayou – It’s a noun name from the natural world with a Cajun and Creole twist. I hear Creedence Clearwater Revival as soon as I see this name, and yet … in our age of River, why can’t we consider other bodies of water as given names?
What do you think of Bay as a given name? Would you use a formal option? Which one? And does it work better for a boy or a girl?